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  • (a soundtrack for the reading)


    I saw your photograph, and then your writing, and a poem came to mind, written by the architect Le Corbusier. I didn't know much about him till I accidentally entered one of his buildings once.

    It was boringly hot, we were sitting and watching the ceiling fan whir slowly in my friend's room. He started talking about the angles Corbusier designed to allow airflow through buildings in the hottest temperatures, independent of foliage, completely crafted of steel and concrete. I wouldn't believe him, so he dragged me out of the house and took me to see a building he knew, right then in the afternoon in the blazing heat, hidden behind a mall and a parking lot .

    I fell in love with the turn of a staircase there. The perfect right angle. I had never had such feelings for stairs. It was the moment I understood something about form, the sun, painting with light, the meaning of negative space in an expression.

    I'd like to share with you an ode to light, that ever present, everyday light, from Le Corbusier's book of painting and poetry, Le poème de l'angle droit or The poem of the right angle. I have translated out the poem from French so I can share what I take from it, it might not match the curves he meant when he wrote it, but well it matches mine, so here goes..

    The sun, the master of our lives
    indifferent, far away.
    He is the visitor - a lord -
    he joins us.
    He lies down: goodnight, he says
    to the moss (o trees)
    to these puddles everywhere (o seas)
    and to our haughty wrinkles ( Alps, Andes and our Himalayas)
    And the lamps are lit.
    A punctual machine rotating
    since time immemorial.
    he created each instant of the twenty four hours
    the gradation, the nuances, the imperceptible
    almost allowing us to measure
    But he breaks it twice brutally
    the morning and the evening.
    The continuum belongs to him, he imposes on us the alternatives :
    - the night - the day
    the two rhythms which rule our destiny :
    A sun rises
    a sun sets
    a sun rises again.

    In the original French..
    Le soleil maître de nos vies.
    indifférent, loin.
    Il est le visiteur -un seigneur-
    il entre chez nous.
    Se couchant: bonsoir dit-il
    à ces moisissures (ô arbres)
    à ces flaques qui sont partout (ô mers)
    et à nos rides altières (Alpes. Andes et nos Himalayas).
    Et les lampes sont allumées.
    Ponctuelle machine tournante
    depuis l'immémorial.
    il fait naître à chaque instant des vingt-quatre heures
    la gradation, la nuance, l'imperceptible
    presque leur fournissant une mesure.
    Mais il la rompt à deux fois brutalement
    le matin et le soir.
    Le continu lui appartient tandis qu'il nous impose l'alternatif:
    -la nuit -le jour-
    les deux temps qui règlent notre destinée:
    Un soleil se lève
    un soleil se couche
    un soleil se lève à nouveau.
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